City reveals designs for Grand Army Plaza restoration

grand army plaza
The Soldiers and Sailors Arch at Grand Army Plaza.
File photo by Stefano Giovannini

City greenspace bigwigs announced an $8.9 million facelift for the iconic Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza on Friday, promising to restore Brooklyn’s architectural crown jewel with construction starting in late 2021.

“Grand Army Plaza has long been a central hub in Brooklyn, but in these past few months it has become even more beloved as New Yorkers flocked to the park for socially-distant recreation and socializing,” Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to seeing the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch and the Plaza restored to their full splendor.”

City Hall and the Prospect Park Alliance unveiled the plan to replace the roof of the iconic archway, clean and repoint its bricks, repair sections of the monument’s interior, and upgrade the stone shrine’s exterior lighting. 

Parks honchos will also revitalize the surrounding plaza — including by removing invasive shrubs, trees, and vines, as well as replacing the cracked bluestone and limestone around the Bailey Fountain and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. 

The cracked stone tiles in the plaza will be replaced.Prospect Park Alliance

The restoration plan comes as the just latest in a series of renovations over the arch’s 128-year history. 

After falling into such a sorry state of disrepair in 1975, the statue of Columbia fell from her chariot onto the sidewalk, leading to a multi-year repair effort to renew the landmark. Decades later, the Parks Department’s Monuments Conservation Program helped reinvigorate the structure’s bronze statues, which sit both atop the monolith, as well as on both legs of the arch. 

Just last winter, chunks of debris fell dozens of feet onto the ground, causing park stewards to close the area underneath the arch — which will also reopen once construction work wraps up.

When work is finished, Brooklnites will also finally be able to once more climb to the arch’s observation deck, which has been closed to the general public for over a decade, but will soon be open on special occasions.

The remodeling work comes as the Prospect Park Alliance is in the process of restoring many other architectural gems on the northeast corner of Prospect Park, including their recent unveiling of the restored Endale Arch just off Grand Army Plaza. 

“The Alliance is incredibly excited to restore this space to its original grandeur,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “Our award winning team of architects and landscape architects has undertaken the restoration of many important park destinations, from the Carousel to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, and this work is central to our mission.”